Dangerous-dog bill passes House
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
By BRIAN LYMAN
MONTGOMERY -- The state House of Representatives approved a pair of bills Tuesday that would allow authorities in Mobile County to declare dogs dangerous and impose criminal penalties on their owners.
"It will hold owners responsible who have a dangerous dog, or those with dogs with a tendency to attack," said state Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Semmes, who sponsored the bills. "If you have a dangerous dog, you have to take necessary action to keep these dogs away from the public."
A Semmes man was mauled by two dogs in 2006, but the dogs were returned to their owner because there was no law regulating their behavior. The legislation allows animal control officers to impound dogs they consider dangerous and that have caused serious physical damage or personal harm to an individual.
The county district attorney could then petition the district court to have a dog declared "dangerous or a nuisance." If the court agrees and finds the dog has caused serious physical injury or death to a human being, the animal would be destroyed.
If the dog is judged dangerous or a nuisance without the harm to a person, the owner would still be required to take several steps to ensure the dog is properly restrained and easily identifiable, either by a special tattoo or a microchip. The owner would also have to take out a $100,000 insurance policy on the animal to cover any future medical or veterinary bills caused by the dog.
The owner would have to pay an additional annual fee to keep the dog registered. If a dog declared dangerous attacks another person without provocation, the animal would be put down and the owner would face up to two years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine.
The bill now moves to the Senate.